In writing, plagiarism is the ultimate crime. Except when it’s the ultimate homage.
Theft has a long and proud history in literature, from the shameless lifting of words to the wholesale plundering of ideas.
The ancient poet Virgil (he died in September of the year 19 BC, so this month is an anniversary) happily stole from those who went before him. His Aeneid follows the travels of a refugee as he seeks to make his way to Italy, and to the eventual founding of Rome.
Centuries later, the poet Dante relied on Virgil, both figuratively and literally, as his guide in The Divine Comedy (written between 1308 and 1321 and available online at Project Gutenberg), with the pair wandering through Hell and Purgatory. Heaven makes an appearance, also.
Dante and his begetters continue to shadow us. In the 2000s, Professor David Ullman specializes in Dante, and has spent his career arguing that the Italian poet was actually on Satan’s side. Perhaps Ullman finds some comfort in his contrary reading because he’s an atheist.
Ullman is a creation of the Toronto writer Andrew Pyper, and is the star of The Demonologist (2013). He’s a dreary everyman with a collapsing marriage and stalled career suddenly confronted by the death of his 11-year-old daughter. It’s also possible, however, that she’s merely kidnapped, by the non-existent Beelzebub.
The Demonologist follows Ullman’s desperate quest to outwit the Adversary (along with human assassins and other enemies) to find little Tess before the clock runs out.
The Demonologist is a Canadian best-seller, and a worthy one. It’s fast-paced and erudite, filled with quotations from Dante. Lines ripped out of someone’s else’s work, that is, cited by demons and humans alike. And by the end of the book, you’ll see that Dante’s work is, in fact, an inspiration.
The Demonologist is one of the dozens of books that will be on display on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the Lennoxville Library’s Adopt-A-Book event, at 7 p.m.
The library is a non-profit, run by an all-volunteer board, and our budget comes from two sources – a grant from the Borough of Lennoxville, and from you, through your outright donations and the money raised during fundraisers.
With that money, we offer the joy of reading, for free, to residents. There’s books, large-print books, books on CD, computers with Internet access, easy read books, graphic novels….
And then there’s the people. We have two part-time employees; in addition, our volunteers offered some 4,000 hours of time in 2012. We would not exist without that help. In the same way, we would be unable to offer books without your financial help.
Please come by at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2 for our Adopt-A-Book campaign. Author Davyd Gosselin will read from his book, The Boathouse Murders. And the work of artist Sonia Z. Palik will be on the walls!
If you can’t make it, the books will be on display through to Saturday, Oct. 5, during our regular hours.
Buy a book, read it first, then place it on library shelves for others to read. That book becomes a gift to yourself, and then a gift to our community.
– Eleanor Brown, Sept. 27, 2013